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Are Student Loan Borrowers to Blame?

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

With the Supreme Court’s rejection of President Biden’s debt relief program, millions of borrowers will have to resume their payments in October.

For about 804,000 others, recent executive action by the president mean that their student debt will be wiped away. Since Biden has been president, he’s been looking for ways to ease this burden, an effort that’s been thwarted by Congressional Republicans and now the Supreme Court. What’s all this meant for borrowers who counted on this promised relief?

For many, it's no less than a financial catastrophe. They owe thousands that they thought would be forgiven by the government, and so they used their student loan money for other things -- like paying bills, covering credit card debt, or paying their rent. For some, it was a vacation or a new car.

On the Lean to the left podcast, Diane Gayeski, Ph,D. a recognized thought leader in trends impacting higher education, business, and the connection between both worlds, looks at those issues and offers some ideas about how the federal government could help students manage their debt -- without spending a ton of money.

Gayeski has some 50 years experience in education and knows what she's talking about. She is Professor of Strategic Communication at Ithaca College's Roy H. Park School of Communications where she served as Dean for 11 years.

Diane is an active consultant and speaker through Gayeski Analytics and works with clients in business, education and the government. She is the author of more than 100 articles and 14 books, some of which are the principal texts used in undergraduate, graduate, and corporate curricula in corporate communication, Human Resources, and instructional systems design.

So, are student borrowers to blame for their own financial difficulties? Here are some questions we discussed with Prof. Gayeski:

Q. An survey of 977 borrowers who qualified under Biden’s original plan for up to $20K in student loan relief shows that many borrowers were perhaps mistakenly confident about their loans being forgiven. Can you talk about some of the key results of that survey?

Q. Why do college students take out loans they know they can’t repay in the first place?

Q. Is it fair to be critical of those who used their loan money for things like rent, buying a house or a car, or paying off other debt?

Q. Why is it that more than half of those surveyed – 58 percent – say they are unprepared for payments to resume?

Q. What steps should borrowers who do not qualify for Biden’s latest relief plan take so they don’t get in trouble over their loans?

Q. You’re an adviser to leaders in business, education and the government. What reforms should be made in the student loan system so that it’s more fair for borrowers?

Q. Of course, the underlying problem is the high cost of education to begin with, right? Any thoughts about that?

Listen to the interview:

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